Five Developers React to iPhone 3.0

With all the big announcements from Apple’s (s aapl) iPhone briefing yesterday, the web has been abuzz with talk about the impact this will have on the iPhone. I managed to corner a few iPhone developers that have paid releases out in the app store now to get their first reaction to the news.


smuleThe team at Smule, the people who brought us Ocarina, Sonic Lighter, and Zephyr, were featured in the briefing with Apple yesterday. They demoed a new app that will take advantage of the peer-to-peer API’s in the iPhone 3.0 SDK.

Yeah, we offered a sneak peak of our new product, Leaf Trombone: World Stage, the first massive multi-player social music game (that’s a mouthful sir). We demonstrated a duet over their new Peer-to-peer API. In effect, this allows to devices to discover and pair, regardless of wifi/cell, etc. The discovery capability is quite neat. And the bandwidth is pretty darn good.

Ge and David performed “Phantom of the Opera” as a duet over bluetooth on two iPhones, which everyone can now enjoy by streaming the presentation. Of course, we haven’t seen all the magic that has become possible with the iPhone 3.0 SDK.

We have held back some of the more significant components of the leaf trombone for when we launch the product…


iconfactoryCraig Hockenberry is a principal at Iconfactory, the collective of creative minds that brought us App Store favorites Twitterific and Frenzic. When asked about his reaction to today’s announcements, Craig was most impressed by the forward momentum of the iPhone platform.

“The thing that’s most positive in my mind is that today showed us how serious Apple is about this platform. They are not resting on their laurels: this release includes major enhancements for users and developers alike. “

Gedeon Maheux, another princiapl at Iconfactory, expressed his excitement and concerns about the new SDK.

We’re very excited about the potential opportunities that 3.0 represents, but there are also the possibility of pitfalls such as creating “content-free” apps that need paid upgrades to really deliver.

When asked about other changes, Craig felt that it was going to take some time to see how the App Store in-app payment mechanism would affect their current and future products. When pushed for further reaction, no single feature seemed to elicit enough excitement to bring out the CHOCKLOCK today, but expect some ALL CAPS tweets once is back up and Craig can get his fleshy palms on the 3.0 SDK.


groceryiqJason Boehle is the co-founder of Free State Labs and one of the developers behind GroceryIQ. The company has since been acquired by Coupons, Inc. and development continues on the next version of the GroceryIQ app which will include syncing shopping lists between phones.

The most significant new feature announced today for Grocery iQ is push notifications. For example, you can know when your significant other adds an item to your shopping list. We are working on phone-to-phone sync right now, and push notifications will make that feature more useful.

While Jason is relieved that cut, copy and paste and MMS have finally found their way to the iPhone, like many others, he was most impressed with the bright future for the platform.

The 3.0 software is hugely important for the iPhone platform, as it shows Apple is continuing to innovate and blur the boundaries between phone and computer. iPhone developers should be very excited, as Apple is allowing more access to the hardware and software inside the device, and is providing us with much better ways to monetize our apps over time.


tab001daylitelogoAlykhan Jetha (better known as AJ) is the CEO of Marketcircle, the Mac business software company. They are working to bring their Daylite productivity management solution to the iPhone with the imminent release of Daylite Touch. Marketcircle is keen on the push notification service for Daylite Touch.

I also think that cut & paste and Spotlight will make the iPhone or iPod even more productive for a lot of people. We are looking forward to see how apps like ours can participate in Spotlight as well as how the whole thing works.

Still, there were some disappointments too.

I was hoping for background processes, or even periodic background processes, but no luck with that. I think that for a lot of apps, being able to run in the background every 30 minutes (or X hours) when the user is not using the device as opposed to always running would significantly reduce the battery problem. These things wouldn’t have to run for long. For example our typical sync takes less than 20 seconds.

Double Encore

doubleencoreDan Burcaw, CEO of iPhone development consultancy Double Encore, was one of the early movers in the iPhone market and led the team behind the Brightkite iPhone app. Dan was also on hand for Apple’s announcements and was still riding the Apple high after he left 1 Infinite Loop and spoke with me on the way to the airport.

This definitely keeps the ball rolling. It was going to be hard for competitors to catch the iPhone and the App Store anyways, but I think Apple said, “We need to be flexible so we can keep this snowball rolling.” Everyone I talked to, my peers, other companies, are saying, “this thing just got better in a lot of ways.” Sure, Apple addressed the specific things that people wanted to change, but this is a really solid, broad release.

Since Dan was in the briefing, I was curious about the announcement that got the most attention from those present.

<laughing> You know, the Apple people kept asking that question too. I’m not sure, but as soon as the video goes up, look for this… When the ESPN app gets a push notification, the alert sound is the ESPN jingle. Da-da-da. That was cool. iPhone 3.0 gives people new ways to extend their brand. The new business models are going to allow companies to extend their brand to the iPhone in a big way too. All these changes to the SDK will bring the big boys into the game that had been sitting on the sidelines, now that they can use their branding in a bigger, richer way.

If you haven’t thought about building an iPhone app, you might want to look into it. This thing is going to be a runaway train by the time 3.0 hits.

A Runaway Train

The strong consensus among all the developers that I spoke with is that the 3.0 announcements have renewed their confidence in the iPhone platform. With 30 million devices out there (iPhone and iPod touch) and the momentum of the app store, existing developers are probably more excited about the iPhone than ever. If I could share one insight, it would be to keep an eye on what happens with the new accessory communication options. I heard several rumblings that this opens up a whole new round of innovation for the iPhone.

While no one picked any one single software feature, API, or Core service as the Next Big Thing, everyone was thrilled with the breadth and depth of the changes to the SDK. A theme developed that these developers felt like the wide range of features announced today made a strong statement about Apple’s commitment to the future of the iPhone platform. A future that, frankly, I’m pretty excited to watch unfold as well.